Law only becomes real if it implemented effectively. For this reason organisations forming part of the Shukumisa Campaign have been monitoring the 2007 Sexual Offences Act since 2008. In 2010 we carried out a further round of monitoring at 70 police stations during the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Children. Twenty-one stations were visited in Gauteng, 27 in the Western Cape, 16 in Limpopo and 6 in KwaZulu-Natal.
This is what we found:
According to the police’s National Instructions on sexual offences, the following documents should be readily available at all stations:
- The Sexual Offences Act;
- The National Instructions 3/2008;
- The station orders around sexual offences;
- The regulations and forms related to the Sexual Offences Act (forms for the HIV testing of the rape accused and information sheets for rape survivors about PEP and HIV testing);
- Information about hospitals providing PEP to rape survivors; and
- A list of organizations providing services to rape survivors.
– Only 32% of stations visited could produce all of the documentation stipulated by the National Instructions.
– 51% had copies of the regulations and forms related to the SOA;
– 54% had a list of organisations providing services to rape survivors;
– 61% had a list of hospitals providing PEP to rape survivors.
This means that almost half of the stations we visited do not know where to refer rape survivors for counselling and that almost half don’t have the forms that allow rape survivors to apply for the compulsory testing of alleged rapists for HIV.
Rape survivors also require specialised services that limit the potential for secondary victimisation. The stations were monitored for access to specialist detective services, the availability of private rooms for statement-taking and if there were NGOs/CBOs/volunteers available to provide support to the victims. We found:
– 63% of stations had access to specialist detectives;
– 60% of stations had a separate building operating as a VSC but others contained VECs housed within the main station building;
– 90% of stations had NGOs/CBOs/ volunteers available to support victims.
Unfortunately few stations had easy access to sign language interpreters to help Deaf victims and just as few stations knew how to help cognitively impaired victims. Stations also did not know where to refer lesbian, gay or transsexual victims for further help.
Our monitoring shows that access to good police services is still something of a lottery; rape survivors are not guaranteed good help at every police station. During the 16 Days the Shukumisa Campaign will be monitoring again to see what has improved in the last year and will also be holding meetings in communities to discuss how the necessary improvements can be made to policing services.